Batwara boat capsize: Mother, her 2 sons among 6 dead, 3 missing

Srinagar: Six people, including a 35-year-old mother and her two school-going twin sons, died when a boat capsized in the swollen Jhelum river 5km from the city centre of Lal Chowk in Srinagar on Tuesday morning.

Srinagar Deputy Commissioner Bilal Bhat said the incident occurred at 8am when an old wooden boat headed from Gandbal on one side of the Jhelum was headed towards the other bank of Batwara.

Though the distance between the localities is 500 metres by boat, the nearest bridge is 3km away, prompting residents to take the risky ride. A footbridge near the area where the accident took place has been under construction for nearly a decade.

The Kashmir Valley has been receiving heavy rain since Saturday and the Jhelum river was in spate in the morning.

Eyewitnesses said that the boat, which was tethered with a rope to a cable for support, got damaged when it hit an iron pillar in the river due to the heavy flow. The damage due to the impact of the crash led to its capsizing.

“Fifteen people, including schoolchildren, were in the boat when it capsized. While six people were rescued, six bodies were retrieved till the afternoon. A search is on for three missing persons,” Bhat said.

The six people rescued were rushed to the local Shri Maharaja Hari Singh Hospital, where three are admitted and three were discharged after first-aid.

Of the three missing, official sources said two are reported to be schoolchildren.

The first responders were local residents but they were soon joined by rescue teams from the National Disaster Response Force, the State Disaster Response Force and the police that were searching for the missing passengers.

Expressing grief and shock, Jammu and Kashmir lieutenant governor Manoj Sinha said: “The administration is providing all possible help to the bereaved families and medical facilities to those injured. Marcos teams have also been alerted. I am constantly monitoring the situation.”

“Deeply concerned by reports of a boat capsizing on the Jhelum near Srinagar,” said National Conference leader Omar Abdullah.

“Shocked to hear about the tragic accident in Batwara where a boat capsized. Reports coming in of children dead. My deepest condolences to their families. I urge the administration to extend all help possible,” said Peoples Democratic Party leader Mehbooba Mufti.

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